A Reader Writes about Rene Girard and Donald Trump

A Reader Writes about Rene Girard and Donald Trump May 18, 2016

I’ll just post the note without comment as I thought it perceptive and wise:

Good evening Mark,

Regarding your recent piece titled ‘’Voting to Support a Lesser Evil vs. Voting to Lessen Evil’’, I wanted to make the following points. I agree with everything you wrote in this text except for this one statement about a Hillary Clinton presidency: ‘’She will likely grow the economy as her husband did’’. There is very good reason to believe that high economic growth is a thing of the past for much of the industrialized world and that this is so for structural reasons that no particular set of policies can change. Robert Gordon gives us a good snapshot as to why:

To these reasons we can add environmental/ecological factors. The world simply does not have the resources for all of humanity to sustain the American or Western level standard of living (and Pope Francis recognizes this in one of the chapter of Laudato Si).

Which brings me to the Trump phenomena (which is the American version of trends taking place in other countries as we can see with far right movements in Europe). As (material) growth slows down, the debate over how income is distributed (and redistributed) within society is becoming more intense and raucous. There are more and more claims being made and the claimants have less and less in common as western societies have become more diverse (and they became more diverse because of highly positive immigration flows which themselves took place precisely because of their relative wealth and high economic growth rates of these societies). Since we can no longer hope to obtain the level of our richer neighbor’s wealth through an ever more elusive growth, the mimetic nature of human desire are producing more and more what they used to produce in older societies, conflict and ultimately, a state of crisis. As you know, French philosopher René Girard exposed this process very well:

The ultimate consequences of all of this is for people to resort to one of the oldest tricks in the world which is the scapegoating mechanism. That is the essence of Trump’s campaign. Through is non-stop flip-flops and contradictions, it is his one constant theme, the ‘’pattern’’. And it is one (more) decisive reason why Christians cannot under any circumstances support this man since, as Girard showed us, the scapegoating mechanism is precisely what Jesus came to deprive us of.

I suppose it is fitting that a particularly sinning person (Donald Trump) who by his own admission has never felt the need to ask God for forgiveness would resort to it since the whole point of this mechanism it is to serve as a shortcut through which we artificially reconcile one another without amending for our sins…

Take care

PS Of course, (and without taking anything away from the absolute necessity to oppose this horrible person) the ultimate irony is that Donald Trump himself can serve as a scapegoat. Isn’t it marvellous that you and me and millions of other people can get in ”communion” with one another on Facebook and elsewhere against this common foe that must (indeed) be stopped at all costs?

"Thank you for posting about this."

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  • Christen Mattix

    Fantastic post. I’m so grateful to have access to these thoughts and thinkers like Rene Girard…Thank you Mark.